In one of the world’s most digitally connected nations, Singapore users are feeling helpless and compelled to share personal data if they wish to use any online services, according to a study released today.
Seventy per cent of Singapore respondents in a study authored by cybersecurity firm Imperva this year say they are resigned to the idea that they have to share data if they want to get on a digital service.
This is despite a lack of trust in the service providers to protect their data. Thirty-five per cent of the respondents say their trust in digital service providers’ willingness to protect their personal data has decreased over the past five years.
Tellingly, 60 per cent say there is no way to ensure that these companies they share data with can protect this information. And 27 per cent believe that it is inevitable that their data will be leaked at some point, so they choose not to worry about it.
Conducted by YouGov in December 2021, the study had surveyed 1,000 respondents from Singapore. In total, it had surveyed close to 7,000 consumers studied across Singapore, Australia, the United States and Britain.
In Singapore, only 11 per cent of people here completely trust cloud messaging services to keep their private information absolutely private, even though they discuss private topics on them and acknowledge that they face serious consequences if the private discussions were leaked.
The level of trust is even lower for online retail and gaming companies as well – both at just 4 per cent – and social media firms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn do not fare much better at 8 per cent.
Yet, it is no secret that these online services are enjoying a boom not just in Singapore but across the world as well, especially with the pandemic making people turn to digital means to keep in touch.
“Consumers face a Catch-22 scenario: they need digital services to operate in modern life, but their trust in these services is deteriorating because organisations are failing to protect the sensitive data they have been entrusted with,” said George Lee, regional vice-president for Imperva Asia Pacific and Japan.
“While consumers and even the government can put pressure on enterprises to take steps to protect their data, there are actions that individuals can carry out to keep their personal information safe in this digital age,” he added.
According to Imperva, users should set strong, differentiated passwords for each account and enable multi-factor authentication, where possible.
It also advised users to beware of suspicious links and avoid storing financial information on online shopping accounts or browsers. Awareness is important as well, for example, so users can change their password if a data breach occurs at a service provider.
Some issues I’ve faced include sharing my personal address with speceialist medical clinics and I don’t see a point in sharing my physical address when it has little relevance to the purpose of my visit.
For the part of having my private conversations and information leaked, personally I feel that there’s safety in numbers. If my private information is hacked, it probably would be aggregated amongst many others and with my current understanding, it may not cause much significant harm to me. The trade off for this is convenience in using these platforms and storing information there for easy retrieval.